Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Vacaciones en Espana Part 1: MADRID

After the Bimbache Adventure Race I stayed in Spain for a week of fiesta & siesta! I started in the "New York City" of Spain... a.k.a. MADRID! Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. It is a city of great cultural and political importance.

There is incredibly beautiful architecture all around Spain, especially Madrid.

This became the theme of my trip: TAPAS (Spanish appetizers), VINO, & SANGRIA

Everyday from 2-5 PM all the businesses (except bars/restaurants) shut down for SIESTA. This is when the Spanish go home to spend time with their families, have lunch, and take a nap. It's popular for the younger folks to gather in the plazas for beer, sangria, snacks, smokes, and socializing. This is called botellon (from botella or bottle). I definitely took part in the sangria, snacks, socializing, and naps portion!

We stayed at the Victoria Hotel located next to the Puerta del Sol in the heart of the Madrid city center.

Madrid is noted for its nightlife and night clubs. Madrilenian youth are famous for dancing all night long, stopping only to have some chocolate con churros at dawn, go home, take a shower, shave (or not), and go to work.

There was a very popular bar right across the street from my balcony so needless to say, the place was rockin' all night long! Around 6:00 AM, when the bar closed...yes, that's 6:00 AM!! Everyone would finally head home and it would quiet down for about an hour until the street sweepers zoomed by. Then at 8:00 AM, the bar opened back up for business! Yup, that's ESPANA!

During the day we enjoyed shopping and walking through the Paseo del Arte. Some of the most important monuments and buildings in Madrid such as the Plaza Mayor, the Prado Museum, and the Royal Palace were just a short walk away.

We did a TAPAS TOUR where our guide walked us to the hottest spots in Madrid to eat tapas and drink Sangria.

Most everything is fried in olive oil. And I LOVE olive oil, so I pretty much liked all the food! But it did become a little too rich after a while. I desperately had to find some "comfort" food so I found some pizza one night and McDonalds another day.

Some of my favorite tapas were the churros dipped in thick, hot chocolate. Could that be why I returned from Spain a few pounds heavier?

Did you read Don Quijote de la Mancha? I my college Spanish class...or should I say, I was supposed to! Lucky for me they print Cliff's Notes in Spanish! ;-)) This is the Miguel de Cervantes "Walk of Fame" in Madrid.

We ate at La Barraca which claims to have the best PAELLA in Madrid. The Valencian Paella is often thought of as the most quintessential Spanish dish and is a combination of rice cooked with seafood, chicken and chorizo.

We went to the Prado Museum and viewed one of the most famous paintings in the world. Las Meninas (also known as The Maids of Honour), painted in 1656, is a work by the Spanish painter Diego Velázquez.

Madrid is a an exciting city with lots to see and do, but after a couple of days I headed south to Toledo, Granada, and Sevilla---- to be continued...

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